New cyberattack technologies developed for U.S. military

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The U.S. military is developing and testing several new offensive and defense cyberdevices, including a system that would enable non-expert military personnel to launch a cyberattack, a defense and aerospace industry publication reported last week.

One of the devices would be able to tap into wireless networks, including satellite communications, voice over IP and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) networks to test for vulnerabilities to penetration, Aviation Week reported.

Because few people currently understand how to launch or respond to a cyberattack, some of the technologies are being tailored for a non-expert use, according to the story. The devices are being built in a “U.S. cyberwarfare attack laboratory."

Described in Aviation Week, one of the devices is a “touch-screen dashboard” containing a list of “cyberattack mission attributes, such as speed, covertnesss, attribution and collateral damage.”

U.S. Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday that the military typically withholds comment on offensive capabilities and referred the request to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). A spokesperson there said USSTRATCOM does not have any information on the new technology.

A report issued in late April from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the U.S. government is lacking a clear plan for launching and responding to cyberattacks. In addition, the report stated that the government should ensure more individuals are trained in cyberattack methods.

In an effort to illustrate the need for more preventative cyberattack measures, military officials revealed last month that the Pentagon has spent more than $100 million in the past six months repairing damage to its networks caused by cyberattacks.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Davis, deputy commander for network operations, told SCMagazineUS.com last month that the Pentagon experiences millions of events each day, usually harmless probes by "bored teenagers" but sometimes experiences more sophisticated threats from nation-states.

Last month, it was reported that foreign spies penetrated the U.S. power grid, and left behind malicious software that could be activated at a later date to disrupt the nation's electric system. The intruders, believed to be from China and Russia, likely hacked into the power grid over the course of several years so they could learn more about how the critical infrastructure works.
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